Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Local bands light up the Madison music scene

Over the past few years, the local music scene in Madison has seen many changes. Not just one, but two incredibly popular mid-size venues burned to the ground; Club 770 at Union South began offering no-cost, alcohol-free shows; bands have come and gone. But through all this and more, Madison continues to support a vibrant, very-much-alive local music scene. While the following bands represent only a fraction of the plethora of sounds available to Madison residents, they each stand out in their own right, with their own sounds. After all, even the most popular bands were local once.

Phat Phunktion is a nine-piece band which, on its website, claims to combine “the polish of top-40 with the smoothness of ’60s soul and the raw energy of ’70s funk.”

The group boasts an impressive resume of shows, including gigs with the likes of The Temptations, Maceo Parker and Maynard Ferguson.


With such an extreme listing of shows, it would be hard to deny Phat Phunktion’s popularity. Just in case some are still in doubt, though, check out this statistic: an estimated 5,000 people showed up for the CD release party of the group’s album Here We Go — a feat accomplished by few Madison bands, as the show set an attendance record.

In addition, Phat Phunktion’s website points out that the band has played at the Madison Blues Festival, Summerfest, Chicago’s House of Blues and has been a featured artist on “The Jenny Jones Show.”

Phat Phunktion’s third and latest CD, Higher, is available now, and the group will perform at Friday’s Madison Funk All-Stars IV show at the Barrymore Theatre.

Phat Phunktion is: Jon Schipper ? trumpet; Al Falaschi ? tenor saxophone, vocals; Courtney Larson ? trombone, vocals; Daniel Wallach ? baritone, alto saxophone; Tim Whalen ? keyboards, vocals; Vincent Jesse ? guitar, vocals; Sheldon Allen ? drums; Jason Braatz ? bass and Pauli Ryan ? percussion.

Big Fat Ass has been playing in basements and clubs in Madison and the Midwest for three years. According to the band, “We started out as a joke and have pretty much stayed that way … although our songs have started addressing more serious issues.”

The group claims to have been “brought together through a mutual love of polka, stealing lawn chairs, the Packers, political activism, Michael Moore, acting like idiots, Ralph Nader, beer and punk rock.”

Big Fat Ass’s CD, Glug, was released on Vegetarian Alcoholic Records and is available at Ear Wax Records. You can see Big Fat Ass at upcoming shows in Winona and Minneapolis, Minn. The group is also scheduled to play at the Joe Strummer tribute at the Memorial Union Rathskeller Friday, Jan. 31 with the GC5, The Gammits and Watershed Year.

Big Fat Ass is: Bryan ? vocals; Chris ? guitar; JC ? drums; Jethro ? guitar and the D ? bass.

Noahjohn began as a solo project of Carl Johns’ in 1998. So far, the band has involved around 30 players, has released three albums, and has toured in the United States, the United Kingdom and Scotland.

The group, in one form or another, has released three albums since 1999. Tadpoles (spring 1999) involved around 12 players, and in late 1999-early 2000, the group became a set five-piece band and recorded Had a Burning. Noahjohn’s third album, Water Hymns, was released in the United States in October and is set for a European release in May.

As for the band’s future plans, members say they plan to “record an album with the avant-country legend Eugene Chadbourne in April and then tour Europe in support of Water Hymns in May.”

Noahjohn is: Eena Ballard ? viola, melodica, guitar, voice organ, piano; Stephen Burke ? guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, lap steel, voice, harp, harmonica; Lisa Maerae Hinzman ? bass, voice, saw; Carl Johns ? voice, guitar, accordian, organ, piano and Peter Roy Kaesberg ? drums, percussion, voice.

The Beeves are a four-piece band consisting of drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards. When the group’s current members first got together, they took the scraps of an earlier project and turned them into what is now My Head My Hand (2002), The Beeves’ first full-length on Plaid Skirt Records.

Since the beginning of the album’s production in July 2001, enough songs have been written to complete a second full-length, and plans for recording are tentatively scheduled for late February.
The Beeves describe their music as “spastic quirk-rock with an edge and a soft spot.”

The Beeves are: Danny Krill ? guitar, vocals; Tony Krill ? drums; Ryan Swan ? bass and Jessica Valdes ? keyboard.

The Junkers have been playing country music in Madison since 1999. According to the group’s members, the Junkers “evoke an earlier era of country, one far-removed from the disco beats of today’s mainstream country.”

As far as the music goes, the Junkers’ songs evoke such “classic” country themes as faithlessness, despair and addiction. But members are careful to add that they also touch on “cross-dressing, Marxism, and showing up drunk for church.”

As previously mentioned, classic country is important to the Junkers, as evidenced by the fact that they cover songs by country legends like Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson.

“And Madonna,” they add.

Currently, the Junkers are putting finishing touches on the follow-up to their enormously successful 2001 debut CD, Hunker Down.

The Junkers are: Matthew Stratton ? lead guitar; Ed Larson ? bass; Thomas Crofts ? drums and Kenneth Burns ? rhythm guitar, vocals.

The Kissers are a seven-member, 11-instrument band with, as they claim, “Celtic and anything-that-rocks roots.” They have shared stages with other Irish groups such as Shane MacGowan and the Popes, Gaelic Storm, 7 Nations, and the Tossers and will be soon be playing with the Prodigals in Milwaukee. According to the group, “There is just one rule at Kissers shows: Everyone has fun.”

The Kissers are: Ken McKisser ? lead vocals, banjo, bass, guitar; Kevin McKisser ? guitar, mandolin, vocals; Carl McKisser ? accordian; Bryan McKisser ? whistle, saxophone, vocals; Caitlin McKisser ? bass, violin, cello, vocals; Jamie McKisser ? drums; Nick McKisser ? accordian and Phillin McKisser ? uilleann pipes, bodhran, whistle, trumpet.

The Crest consists of two brothers who were “born into a family of musicians,” according to their website. Although the duo had been making music in a Madison basement for more than 10 years, The Crest was officially discovered at its first studio session, which the brothers paid for themselves. At the session, according to The Crest’s website, “the two producers who were running the session and a group of onlookers were stunned by what they were seeing. From that day on The Crest was in isolation no more and was done paying for studio time.”

Perhaps the reason The Crest stands out among other Madison bands is its position as one of the area’s premiere hip-hop groups.

The duo also prides itself not only on its completely independent status, but also on its sheer volume of shows.

The brothers currently have two albums available, Cheese n Crackers and The Crest.

The Crest performs this Friday, Jan. 24, at The Annex with Blueprint and Illogic.

The Crest is: AD and Jack Cracker, aka Joshua Rockets.

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